5 Maccabees Chapter 55 (from The Five Books of Maccabees)


Cotton H.Sir : 

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 |16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 |

21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 |34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 |

41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 |52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 |


P. 412 – 418 Book 5 B.C. 36 [PDF: 462/468 of p.524]

CHAPTER 55.1)Foot note p. 412 a. Compare Josephus, Ant. XV. 2, 3.

(i) The history of Aristobulus the son of Hyreanus.

1 Aristobulus the son of Hyreanus2)Foot note p. 412 b. This is an error: Aristobulus and Mariamne were the children, not of Hyrcanus, but of Alexander son of Aristobulus the brother of Hyreanus, by Alexandra daughter of Hyreanus. See the Genealogical Table subjoined to the introduction to this volume.was of such beauty of form, and exquisite figure and understanding, that his equal was not known. [B.C. 36.] His sister Mariainne also, the wife of Herod, was 2 like to him in beauty ; and Herod was wonderfully attached to her. But Herod was averse to 3 appoint Aristobulus high priest in the place of his p. 413 father ; lest the Jews, being attached to him through their affection to his father, should at 4 some future time make him king. Wherefore he appointed some one of the number of common priests3)Foot note p. 413/414 c. Josephus states, that he sent to Babylon for one of the obscure Jews residing there, whose name was Ananelus. Ant. XV. 2. Yet afterwards he describes him as being  (See XV. 3.) p. 414 Or the sense may be, “he threatened him repeatedly if he should not comply with his desires in this matter.”, who was not of the family of the Asmonaeans, to be high priest. 5 At which Alexandra the mother of Aristobulus being vexed, wrote to Cleopatra ; requesting to have a letter from Antony to Herod, that he should remove the priest whom he had elevated, and appoint her son Aristobulus high priest in 6 his stead. And Cleopatra granted this; and requested Antony to write a letter to Herod on this subject, and to send it by some chief man of his 7 servants. So Antony wrote a letter, and sent it by his servant Gellius : and Gellius coming to 8 Herod, delivered to him Antony’s letter. But Herod forbore to do that which Antony had written to order, asserting that it was not the custom among the Jews to depose any priest from his station. 9 Now it happened that Gellius saw Aristobulus, and was greatly struck with the beauty of his form and the perfection of his carriage, which he 10 saw. Wherefore he painted a picture of his likeness, and sent it to Antony, writing beneath the picture to this effect ; that no man had begotten Aristobulus, but that an angel cohabiting with 11 Alexandra, begat him on her. Therefore when the picture reached Antony, he was seized with a p. 414 most vehement desire to see Aristobulus. And he 12 wrote a letter to Herod, reminding him how he had appointed him king, and had assisted him against his enemies, recounting his kindnesses towards him : adding a request, that he would send 13 Aristobulus to him ; and he threatened him in this business for the words which he had sent back.

But when Antony’s epistle was brought to 14 Herod, he refused to send Aristobulus, knowing what Antony designed ; and on that account he disdained to do it : and he hastily deposed4)Foot note p. 414 d. Josephus complains, that in this Herod acted contrary to the law; which declared that a person once appointed high priest could not be removed from his office. He states that the first instance of this being done was that of Antiochus Epiphanes, who through bribery consented to depose Jason, and substituted his brother Menelaus (or Onias). See the account of that transaction above, at 3 Mace, iv. 23, 24.the high priest whom he had appointed, establishing Aristobulus in his place. And then he wrote to Antony, informing him 15 that he had already executed that which he had formerly written to him, about the placing Aristobulus in his father’s post, before his last letter arrived: which business he had to that time 16 delayed, because it was necessary to debate the matter with the priests and Jews, after an interval of some days, as the thing was unusual ; but it having passed according to his wish, he had immediately appointed him. But now that he was 17 appointed, it was not lawful for him to go out of Jerusalem ; as he was not king, but a priest p. 415 18 attached to the service of the temple : and as often as he wished to compel him to go out, the Jews refused, and would not allow him, even if he 19 should slay the greater part of them. Therefore when Herod’s letter reached Antony, he desisted from asking for Aristobulus ; and Aristobulus was made high priest.

20 Then came on the feast of tabernacles ; and men, assembled before the house of God, beheld Aristobulus clothed in the sacerdotal robes standing at the altar, and they heard him blessing 21 them : and he pleased men so much, that they exhibited their affection towards him in a very 22 marked manner. Which Herod being fully informed of, was much grieved ; and feared lest, when Aristobulus’ party gained strength, he should demand from him the kingdom, if his life should be prolonged : wherefore he began to plot his death.

23 Now it was customary for the kings to go out, after the feast of tabernacles, [B.C. 35.] to some pleasure-residences at Jericho which former 24 kings had made : and there are many gardens adjoining each other, in which were wide and deep fish-ponds, to which they had conducted streams of water, and had erected fair buildings in those gardens : they also had built in Jericho fair palaces and handsome edifices.

25 Now the author of the book5)Foot note p. 415/416 eWho is the author alluded to? [See the same expression occurring before, at ch. xxv. 5, and below, at ch. lix. 96.] Josephus in various passages mentions the balsam-trees; as at Antiq. IV. 5; VIII. 6: where he states that they were first brought into Judaea by the queen of Saba, who presented them to Solomon: and IX. 1. Again at XV. 4, he says,  But Josephus is not ” the author of this book. Several heathen authors relate the fact of the balsam being thought peculiar to Judaea ; but I have not discovered what early writer it is that has recorded the experiment of transplanting, and the failure of the original trees, mentioned in the text. 

Diodorus Siculus (speaking of the balsam) says,  Biblioth. II. 48. and XIX. 9. (ed. Wesseling.) But we must remember that Diodorus Siculus assigns the lake Asphaltites and its coasts, not to the Jews, but to the Nabathaean Arabians; which circumstance perhaps may help to reconcile the seemingly conflicting accounts of different historians; some of whom confine the plant to Judaea, while others assert its native place to be Arabia. Pliny states, ” Omnibus odoribus praefertur balsam um, uni terrarum Judaeae concessum. — Quondam in duobus tantum hortis, utroque regio, altero jugerum xx non amplius, altero pauciorum. Ostendere arbusculam hanc urbi Imperatores Vespasiani ; clarumquo dictu, a Pompeio magno in triumpho arbores quoque duximus. Servit nunc haec et tributa pendit cum sua gente.” Hist. Nat. XII. 54. Again ; ” Fastidit balsamum alibi nasci.” Id. XVI. 39. Justin reports to the same effect.—It is proved, that the Romans, after their conquest of Judaea, enlarged the plantations of balsam at Jericho ; so that the produce became greater, and the article itself less costly. It is perhaps almost needless to observe, that the ” vineyards of Engaddi,” mentioned in the Song of Solomon, are the groves of balsam, which were in that neighbourhood. Historians have said, that some of the trees were carried from Judaea into Egypt by Cleopatra, in the days of Herod : but this is contested in a note to Haverkamp’s Josephus, vol. II. p. 66. See the fullest details on this subject in Salmasii Exercitationes Plinianae in Solini Polyhistorem, cap. 35. p. 418—430. edit. Traject. 1689: also in the notes on Theophrasti Hist. Plant. IX. 6. edit. Stapel, fol. 1644.

Some Arabian authors relate, that the balsam-tree had been carried by the Saracens to Matarea, (the ancient Heliopolis,) but that the plants had continually failed there.
relates, that balsam-trees grew abundantly in Jericho ; and that they were found no where else but there ; and that many kings had carried them thence into their own country, but none grew, except those p. 417 26 which were carried into Egypt ; and that they did not fail in Jericho until after the destruction of the second House ; but then they withered away, and never sprouted forth again.

27 So Herod went out to Jericho in quest of pleasure, 28 and Aristobulus followed him. And when they came to Jericho, Herod commanded some of his servants to go down into the fish-ponds, and play as was customary : and that if Aristobulus should come down to them, they should play with 29 him for some time, and then drown him. But Herod sat in a banqueting-room which he had prepared for himself to sit in : and Herod sent for Aristobulus, and made him sit by his side : also the chief of his attendants and of his friends sat 30 in his presence : and he commanded eatables and drink to be brought ; and they did eat and drink: and the attendants hastened down to the waters 31 according to custom, and sported. And Aristobulus greatly wished to go down with them into the water, the wine now mastering them, and 32 asked leave of Herod to do so : who replied, This neither befits you nor any one like you : and when he was urgent, he admonished him and forbade him : but when Aristobulus repeated his request to him, he said to him, Do as you please. 33 And then Herod, rising up went to a certain 34 palace that he might go to sleep there. And Aristobulus went down to the waters, and played for a long time with the attendants : who, when they perceived that being now weary and tired out he wished to go up, held him under water, killed him, and carried him out dead.

p. 418 And there was a great tumult of the people, 35 and cry, and a lamentation was set up. And 36 Herod running up, came out to see what had happened : who, when he saw Aristobulus dead, bewailed him, and wept over him very tenderly with a most vehement flood of tears. Then he ordered 37 him to be borne into the Holy City, and accompanied him until he came into the city, and compelled the people to attend his funeral, and there was no point of the very highest honour which he omitted to pay him. And he died when a 38 youth of sixteen years of age, and his high-priesthood continued only for a few days.

On which account enmity grew up between his 39 mother Alexandra and her daughter Mariamne Herod’s wife, and the mother and sister of Herod6)Foot note p. 418 f. Namely, Cypris his mother, who was mentioned above, at ch. xlix. 20 ; and Salome his sister. And the execrations and revilings which 40 Mariamne heaped upon them were known ; and although these reached Herod, yet he did not forbid her nor reprove her, through his great affection for her : he feared also, lest she should 41 imagine in her mind that he was well inclined towards the others : from hence these doings lasted long between these women. And Herod’s sister, 42 who was endued with the greatest malice, and consummate artifice, began to plot against Mariamne : but Mariamne was religious, upright, 43 modest, and virtuous : but she was a little tinged with haughtiness, pride, and hatred towards her husband.


Original Source: Transcribed from PDF copy of Book "The Five Books of Maccabees in English. With Notes and Illustrations", by HENRY COTTON, D.C.L.(Sir) Archdeacon of Cashel, and Late Student of Christ Church, Oxford. Publication date 1832 | PDF


References   [ + ]

1. Foot note p. 412 a. Compare Josephus, Ant. XV. 2, 3.
2. Foot note p. 412 b. This is an error: Aristobulus and Mariamne were the children, not of Hyrcanus, but of Alexander son of Aristobulus the brother of Hyreanus, by Alexandra daughter of Hyreanus. See the Genealogical Table subjoined to the introduction to this volume.
3. Foot note p. 413/414 c. Josephus states, that he sent to Babylon for one of the obscure Jews residing there, whose name was Ananelus. Ant. XV. 2. Yet afterwards he describes him as being  (See XV. 3.) p. 414 Or the sense may be, “he threatened him repeatedly if he should not comply with his desires in this matter.”
4. Foot note p. 414 d. Josephus complains, that in this Herod acted contrary to the law; which declared that a person once appointed high priest could not be removed from his office. He states that the first instance of this being done was that of Antiochus Epiphanes, who through bribery consented to depose Jason, and substituted his brother Menelaus (or Onias). See the account of that transaction above, at 3 Mace, iv. 23, 24.
5. Foot note p. 415/416 eWho is the author alluded to? [See the same expression occurring before, at ch. xxv. 5, and below, at ch. lix. 96.] Josephus in various passages mentions the balsam-trees; as at Antiq. IV. 5; VIII. 6: where he states that they were first brought into Judaea by the queen of Saba, who presented them to Solomon: and IX. 1. Again at XV. 4, he says,  But Josephus is not ” the author of this book. Several heathen authors relate the fact of the balsam being thought peculiar to Judaea ; but I have not discovered what early writer it is that has recorded the experiment of transplanting, and the failure of the original trees, mentioned in the text. 

Diodorus Siculus (speaking of the balsam) says,  Biblioth. II. 48. and XIX. 9. (ed. Wesseling.) But we must remember that Diodorus Siculus assigns the lake Asphaltites and its coasts, not to the Jews, but to the Nabathaean Arabians; which circumstance perhaps may help to reconcile the seemingly conflicting accounts of different historians; some of whom confine the plant to Judaea, while others assert its native place to be Arabia. Pliny states, ” Omnibus odoribus praefertur balsam um, uni terrarum Judaeae concessum. — Quondam in duobus tantum hortis, utroque regio, altero jugerum xx non amplius, altero pauciorum. Ostendere arbusculam hanc urbi Imperatores Vespasiani ; clarumquo dictu, a Pompeio magno in triumpho arbores quoque duximus. Servit nunc haec et tributa pendit cum sua gente.” Hist. Nat. XII. 54. Again ; ” Fastidit balsamum alibi nasci.” Id. XVI. 39. Justin reports to the same effect.—It is proved, that the Romans, after their conquest of Judaea, enlarged the plantations of balsam at Jericho ; so that the produce became greater, and the article itself less costly. It is perhaps almost needless to observe, that the ” vineyards of Engaddi,” mentioned in the Song of Solomon, are the groves of balsam, which were in that neighbourhood. Historians have said, that some of the trees were carried from Judaea into Egypt by Cleopatra, in the days of Herod : but this is contested in a note to Haverkamp’s Josephus, vol. II. p. 66. See the fullest details on this subject in Salmasii Exercitationes Plinianae in Solini Polyhistorem, cap. 35. p. 418—430. edit. Traject. 1689: also in the notes on Theophrasti Hist. Plant. IX. 6. edit. Stapel, fol. 1644.

Some Arabian authors relate, that the balsam-tree had been carried by the Saracens to Matarea, (the ancient Heliopolis,) but that the plants had continually failed there.
6. Foot note p. 418 f. Namely, Cypris his mother, who was mentioned above, at ch. xlix. 20 ; and Salome his sister. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *